An often addressed issue between divorcing parents is who is going to pay for the children’s college education and related expenses, and in what proportion. When the issue is litigated, a court will generally look to the twelve factors enunciated in the Supreme Court’s 1982 Opinion of Newburgh v. Arrigo. Resolutions between parties may include a number of possibilities, including dividing the costs in proportion to the parents’ respective incomes, abiding the event, etc. Settlement agreements also typically contain language requiring the child to apply for scholarships, grants, loans and other forms of financial aid to stem the blow. College funds or other types of savings accounts might have been established for the children that are to be applied before any additional financial obligation befalls on the parents. Each of these different mechanisms is designed to protect the children, ensure proper education, while also considering the parent’s financial circumstances as well, which are often altered following a divorce due to additional expenses, new families, legal fee debt and the like.
The next question, forming the basis of this blog post, is what obligation do parents have to contribute to graduate school? Does a parent have an obligation to pay for a child’s law school tuition? How about medical school? This infrequently addressed issue in the court system was recently taken on by the Appellate Division in Schambach v. Schambach, a very interesting decision containing an analysis in a concurrence/dissent that merits in-depth discussion.